Ann Paul, an organizer of the Florida Birding and Nature Festival

by | Oct 19, 2022

Ann Paul—an organizer of the Florida Birding and Nature Festival, a multifaceted, multi-day extravaganza, slated for Oct. 20-23, in and around Apollo Beach, but ultimately traversing six counties—recalls when she first became interested in birds. Let’s just say a black-and-white warbler, spotted while running late for a field trip, played a pivotal role. She adds she had already developed a passion for animals, before she became enchanted by birds, but notes that observing and studying birds is more practical because they tend to be more active and visible than the mammals–many of them nocturnal—that first intrigued her. To get started in birding, Paul advises that very little is needed, but an aspiring birder should get the best pair of binoculars they can afford. She articulates the sense of joy she reaps from birding, saying it can come with spotting a species you’ve never seen before or, conversely, looking anew at a bird you’ve seen extensively, like a blue jay, and recognizing fresh or deeper qualities. Paul discusses some of the offerings of the Florida Birding and Nature Festival, among them select field trips (including “Seeking Florida’s Special Birds,” as well as outings to Ft. DeSoto and Gibbons Preserve), and the two Keynote Talks–Steve Shunk’s “Woodpeckers: Florida’s Keystone Carpenters,” and “Beyond Wild: Thought, Emotion, and Culture in Birds and other Animals,” by Dr. Carl Safina, the acclaimed author and MacArthur “genius” grant winner. She describes some of the elements of the Festival’s nature expo, including representatives of multiple binocular companies, other vendors, and assorted tablers. (,,

ALSO: I spoke briefly with Laurie Van Brocklin, Marketing and Public Relations Manager at the Humane Society of Pinellas, which was gearing up for its big annual gala, Paws For A Cause. Van Brocklin first provides a brief overview of the Humane Society of Pinellas, outlining its history and mission. After describing some of the organization’s services, we move more squarely on to discussing Paws For A Cause, HSP’s big party held each year, designed to serve as its most significant fundraiser, featuring cocktails, dinner, a selection of adoptable pets, silent and live auctions. Plus, the very next day, the Humane Society of Pinellas was slated to present yet another adoption event—this one in association with the local Subaru dealership. (,,

COMEDY CORNER: Jeremy Hotz’s “Bronx Zoo”  (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  Heart’s “Barracuda”


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